Monarch butterfly numbers seen rebounding

March 1, 2011 at 8:35 PM
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas, March 1 (UPI) -- Scientists in Texas say the annual Monarch butterfly invasion looks promising despite recent record low temperatures over much of the state.

Texas A&M University researcher Craig Wilson says the numbers of Monarchs entering the state over the next few weeks should be very strong.

"The numbers are better than expected and the Monarch appears to have recovered to 2008-09 levels in their over-wintering sites in Mexico," Wilson says.

"Recent studies show their numbers this year could be about 200 million overall, which would be quite amazing since they were down almost 50 percent this time a year ago," he says.

Storms decimated Monarch butterfly numbers as they migrated south last year, researchers say.

Most of the Monarch wintering sites, where they mate before heading north, are in the Mexican state of Michoacan, where areas can contain 50 million butterflies within just a few acres, a university release says.

During their migration, Monarchs get about 70 percent of their food supply while flying their routes through Texas, Wilson says, and succeeding generations eventually fly 1,500 miles north to Canada.

The full migration should begin soon, he says, and Southwest residents should be able to see Monarchs in the next few weeks.

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